Sunday, July 10, 2005

A Little Lull in the Action

The Montgomery County sex-ed battle is kind of in a holding pattern right now, as everybody prepares to apply for the citizens advisory committee (CAC). The school board had drawn up a list of organizations that could be represented, and we were on it, but then they decided that there might be relevant groups that they didn't know about, and they should wait and see what groups applied.

Each group is supposed to submit three names, a primary one and two alternates. While this gives the board control, there is a little problem. If there is a group of, say, sex-education experts, and they nominate their three best people, it means that two of them won't make it. So they could submit their names as independents, too, but I don't know how good that looks to apply twice, so ... Nobody's really sure how to work it.

There had better be somebody from PFLAG on the committee, and somebody from It seems childish to think you have to balance out every thing, one piece of candy to this kid and one for that one, but ... in this situation it is not objectionable for the radical right to have a seat at the table, they just need to be counterbalanced by commonsense. We'll submit our list of names, the other side will submit theirs, and we'll see.

My secret suspicion is that the school board will engineer the situation so that the CAC has no real power anyway. Their "experts" will prepare a curriculum, the CAC will review it, and then there will be a nice ceremony to thank them. But I am hoping that the MCPS experts will consult, say, the American Academy of Pediatrics, as well as other medical, psychological and counseling organizations. Since the district is a black box, we don't know how they will come up with something, but I hope they have the wisdom to reach out to real experts for advice.

As we saw in the email that the CRC President sent to the world this week, their main concern is going to be getting "ex-gays" into the health classes. I think this is best seen as a strategy to destroy the curriculum; we were at the December Fourth organizing meeting of the Recall group, where they were very clear about the fact that they don't think the schools should be teaching sex-ed in the first place. So by dragging in some lame non-issue like "ex-gays," and pretending that the district is not being fair to this group of pretend-victims, they can keep going back to court, and keep delaying the curriculum. The way that works is that the school district runs out of money for lawyers. The way that doesn't work is if there are lawyers willing to support the school board pro bono. Rumor has it that this may have been taken care of. I don't think that attempting to bankrupt the school district is going to work this time.

Be clear about this "ex-gay" thing. An "ex-gay" is somebody who has stopped being gay. In other words, it's a very rare phenomenon, nobody really believes that you just stop being gay. Ah, but they make allowances. You can still have a homosexual orientation but not act on it. That would mean that an "ex-gay" is a gay person who has gone back into the closet (though it seems, since they try to recruit teens who many not be sexually active yet, that they really mean any closeted gay person).

It is any person's choice to act or not act on their feelings. We hope that people who have dangerous or antisocial impulses do not act on them, in fact civil conduct requires us to maintain self-control. But when it comes to acting on your feelings of romantic attraction, what can you say? It's up to you. I don't see any reason that a person should be encouraged to enter into a relationship with someone they do not find attractive, but clearly there are social pressures along those lines, and some do choose that, with the encouragement of groups like CRC and PFOX.

Severing the link between your feelings and your actions does not seem, to me, to merit special status in a health class. It is my impression that most straight guys spend a lot of their time checking out attractive women, and not acting on their feelings. That doesn't mean the schools should teach about "ex-casanovas" or anything, it just means life's like that. The gay guy who marries a woman and lives his life pretending to be straight is, likewise, just somebody making a choice, like we all do.

Let's keep our eyes open. The "ex-gay" thing is going to be used to destroy the curriculum, if we let them pretend it is credible.


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